Posted Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, at 11:35 AM
Conservation measures and warm ocean temperatures appear to have created an unprecedented Maine lobstering boom, with fishermen bringing in a record haul of over 100 million pounds of lobster. That said, officials are cautioning that this is only a preliminary figure and is subject to revisions.
Not apropos of this story in particular, when you think about primary commodity production industries like fishing it really brings home the extent to which our conventional national statistical series are not that well-suited to a modern economy. When it comes to lobsters, you have a very clear distinction between the quantity of lobsters caughts (100 million pounds!) and the nominal value of the lobster harvest (which is way down from record levels because lobsters have become cheaper). In a services-oriented economy we of course do the same thing, and tally up both the quantity of health care services delivered and the prices charged. But people intuitively want to measure the health care sector in terms of how much health it delivers, rather than how many units of health care it delivers. That ends up muddying the waters about what does and doesn't constitute a pure increase in prices.